Category Archives: learning

The Artist Window: Part 1

Nature hides its secrets, the artist must be patient, waiting for the riddle to show itself. Usually it is quite subtle and the quiet spectacle of light is gone almost as soon as it’s noticed.

Light is what the photographer seeks to describe, to find it in a way that it might not have been noticed or seen before.

This is a series of treasures no one would notice, but I find them quite beautiful. Nature has always inspired me.

Light through windows

Subtle for a moment and just as quickly gone
the true colors of leaves
are defined
and we see the extraordinary in the mundane
beauty in the ordinary.

Rich autumn colors come inside
bringing warmth to a silver
afternoon
I cling to color
as the landscape turns gold
than gray
watching  the
last remnant of flame
fade

It’s sad to see its wings
useless
how many miles
had passed?
last winter it hung
trembling with
others of its kind
and it belonged
somewhere
in Mexico
waiting to make the trip
back
only to lay on the concrete
spent

The final shaft of light

autum
the final stained glass
window
a remnant of spring
fading

 

Illustrations using Adobe Illustrator

 

Purple Passion vine illustration using Adobe Illustrator

I have been illustrating in Adobe Illustrator for many years and after a many parts and end equipment I thought it was time to expand my subject matter. How I actually started working in the high-tech industry doing technical drawings and the occasional illustration was by showing an image of a green tree frog to a potential employer. It was the first attempt at illustrating using a PC-the program was Arts and Letters Jurassic Arts and the tools were basic at best.

I have since worked in Micrografix Designer, Corel Draw even freehand and finally the standard adobe products-Illustrator and Photoshop. After writing about the life of a goldfish I decided to illustrate the image instead of using a photograph and what follows is how I approach illustrating in Illustrator.

My first and most basic process is just getting the shape and basic colors and tones down. This is the fastest part of the illustration. I will usually follow the lines of color and shadow and create layers of light that cover up layers of shadow.

Image 1-basic form

After I feel the overall form is correct I will layer the colors again almost like the rings of a tree-you overlap each color with the form that overlaps it. You will notice every change and try to process it as if there were multiple layers of shapes that make the final form. I try to use as little gradients as they can tend to be contrived-if I do use them they need to be very subtle.

The second figure shows a minimal change from the first. Basic overlaying of colors that allow the background to show through and adds depth to the illustration. Detail is not as important at this point as there will be overlying of details and softening of edges after this stage.

Image 2-overlays of colors-layering for effect

The third step is where all the details begin taking shape. Again hard edges are overlapped

with lighter softer edges. At this stage I need to realize the overall texture and the best

way to create a subtle dimensional feel to the image.

Image 3-overlaying two

By the third step the most intricate color and details become the major focus. I start cleaning up the basic shape and making sure all the proportions are right. The lines and detail is severe at this point because with the next step I will use the brush to merge the shapes to form a subtle more photographic image.

The final step is actually using brush strokes to overlap the hard edges of the previous step. Light and shadow overlay the original details and blocks of colors with varying degrees of opacity allows for more subtle effects.

Final step before creating background

After finalizing the details and colors of the fish I create a background. I don’t want much detail in the background so brush work and simple heavily feathered images create a backdrop that strives to not fight with the image of the goldfish.

Finished product using Adobe Illustrator

This was a previous post from blogger and I though with the new illustrations for R.L. Claytons’ first children’s book Penelope the Pooting Spider-I thought it was appropriate to share the article on techniques for illustrating with Adobe Illustrator.

We started with the cover and the interior was a watermarked version of the cover with characters highlighted on each page.

 

I added illustrated versions of the animals from illustrator but the cat and the field was created by hand with pastels and then photographed and adjusted for color and texture.

The Garden Becomes its Own

I love gardening, something I’ve been writing about for quite a while. It is the act of dissolving into the silence and intricacies of nature.

Every bud and seedling is a glimmer of hope. I enjoy tending the soil, being active and watching this natural work of sorts become its own.

The garden starts out with seeds and a general idea and from there it becomes what it will be. I used to be a lot less enthusiastic about the summer garden than the spring garden.

The spring would come with ideas and grand hopes for wildlife and a garden I could photograph but once the summer heat kicked in, the garden would go its own way.

All of the weeding and planting would turn into a garden of brown shrivelled up leaves. I think depression has a big thing to do with it as well, all intent and excitement dies with its crippling effects.

This year is different. I’m looking at raising milkweed to sell, yes a weed but the only hope for future monarch butterflies. I am collecting passionvine and dutchmans’ pipe as well and with the addition to the family of a dog named Ranger, suddenly I am outside even in the heat, still plucking weeds, still planting.


It’s amazing how a puppy can take you out of yourself. It’s not about you, it’s about him and the garden is better because of it. As he chews on sticks and rocks, I continue to weed, water and protect.

I’m not sure how long this will last, but I’m excited to see the garden become its own even after the second hottest May. I hope you enjoy a bit of a walk through my garden.

 

Afternoon Sun: Oil on Canvas

As the sun fades from the backyard and the birds all take their places on unseen perches, the last bit of light paints the trees against the house.

It’s almost like a stain-glassed window as the light filters through spring leaves. I have been watching this for many seasons and have had the idea on my easel for many years now.

I was interested in the richness of fading afternoon sun. I love the shadows of blues and greens reflecting a coolness in the midst of an ending day. This is the third in an upcoming series of paintings coming off the easel. Stay tuned.

Wildlife Gardens in Texas Part 4: white veined Dutchman’s pipevine /Aristolochia fimbriota Vine

This is the amazing butterfly that will visit your garden when you plant Dutchman’s Pipe or Aristolochia vine. Even without the welcome visitor it is an easy and very interesting vine to grow.

This is the Caterpillar that will devour every bit of the plants you have but they grow back quickly. They look a bit like slugs but if you study them closer they are quite beautiful in their own right.

Let’s get back to the plant which has its’ own unique qualities. The reason they call them Dutchman’s Pipe vines is because the flowers are very strange and exotic and look much like a dutchmans pipe.

This is the White-Veined Dutchman Pipevine-it is a ground cover that will come back every year in Texas and reseeds itself quite easily. The smell of the leaves are very strong.

There are several different types of vines but be wary of the Aristolochia Gigantea-it is a beautiful flower and dramatic bloom but it supposedly will kill the caterpillars, if you grow them just make sure you keep them away from butterflies seeking to lay their eggs.

The next plant is the sunflower which is not only a host plant but easy to grow from seed and a dramatic addition to any landscape.

 

Wildlife Gardens in Texas: Part 2 Passionvine

Citrine, the yellow passion vine

The second plant I would highly recommend is the passion vine. There is so much  about this plant to love and it attracts Fritillary butterflies that will lay hordes of caterpillars to devour it.

Gulf Fritillary

I have become somewhat of a collector having raced 9 or tend different species over the years and continue to be amazed by its ease and beauty.

Hybrid Flower

The plant is named Passiflora after the passion of Christ, there are a lot of symbolism with the parts of the flower, the stigmata represent the three nails and the 5 anthers below them the wounds.  The sharp tips of the leaves, the lance, the tendrils the flagellation of Christ and the ten pedals and sepals the loyal apostles. Read more

Lady Margaret

They won’t overtake your yard or destroy a fence.
I have had the blue variety come back every spring with a heavier base, I would think if it grew well enough it could destroy a fence but I’ve never had any problems with them.

The smell of the flowers.
The blooms are not only dramatic and odd, they smell like sweet candy and each species has its own unique flavor. The thorny larvae of the gulf and variegated fritillaries will devour the stands of the plant but that’s why I grow plants for the wildlife.

They are Good for Bees. Attracting bees could be a good or bad aspect of raising a plant. I always welcome them and never have been stung while treating them with due respect.

Cerulean

The abundant flowers are many different colors and they will cover an area in the yard with beautiful blooms through the summer. I would highly recommend this plant because its easy and needs little care. The native purple, (incense and incarnate), blue (cerulean) and some hybrids will come back after a mild winter and will grow in most places with an abundance of light.

I will have a whole new collection this year and many more photos.
Next is the Dutchmans Pipe-be patient if you plant it, they will come.

Isolated Fruit as Art

I photographed these pieces of fruit because I liked how they brought color to a gray winter window sill. To see ordinary fruit without the context of a kitchen shows how beautiful the colors and textures of each fruit can be outside its’ normal context.

My latest series of  projects  have been finding rich colors and textures from ordinary objects. When viewed in a different light and in a unique setting, even ordinary fruit takes on a new and more attractive presence.

Remnants of Summer Gardens

Remnants of summer’s gardens; sharp gnarled teeth of devils’ walking stick, shriveled up stems and seeds of sunflowers waiting for spring.

I found them at the weathered gate, rich green algae on an old broken down fence. These are all whispers of a summer past and I realize the gardener is only an introduction of seed to soil, the wind and rain are the catalysts, each bird a possible carrier of a new seed and every weed a new battle for supremacy.

You can learn much about life from a garden.

A New Series: Wildlife Gardens in Texas: Milkweed plants for Monarch butterflies

This is the first post in a series on Wildlife gardening in Texas.

Mexican Milkweed available at your local gardens

I have always been a lover of nature and wildlife gardening seemed
a natural connection to my writing, photography and painting. If you
build a wildlife friendly garden, they will find you.

My garden has been the subject matter for many photography posts, art and writing. There are several species of plants you need to have
in your garden and the fact that they are native will make your garden almost care-free.

Monarch on Maximillian Sunflower

You need to feed the adult birds, allow spaces for birds to
hunt for food without chemicals, raise their families and drink.
You need to feed the caterpillar young and have a place for the adults to feed on nectar, again no chemicals.

The first plant you need to have to help the monarch butterfly
population rebound is milkweed. There are all different species but try to stick with the native species.

Mexican Milkweed

Another plant that is available more than the native species is mexican  milkweed, also known as blood flower.  It’s a tall plant that can reseed and it feeds the young of the monarch.

Frostweed

For the adults, they love Frostweed and Zinnias. Both of these plants will attract them to your garden and you will not need to do much to keep these plants wild. Zinnias actually will grow well from seed and frostweed will reseed itself and feed many other species of nectar loving butterflies.

Zinnias and Sunflowers

Next post will be on Passionvine, what they attract and their ease to grow. Stay tuned. The next  post will be next week at this time.

Passionvine

Build it and they will come

For more photos of garden https://artbygordon.com/?page_id=475

Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge

A sunset on Mount Scott as I rushed to capture the last bit of light.

The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is an amazing prairie with sweeping buttes, free range longhorns and bison and many small brilliant blue lakes.

I can’t say enough about the feeling of being away from everything. There are prairie dogs in open fields and meadowlarks in bright yellow flocks rising and falling in rich brown fields of native grasses.

I would also recommend the blue hole for a rugged hike surrounded by waterfalls and deep gorges. There is a holy city and a great network of trails that go all through the park.

For another story from a recent trip. Please see Wichita: Two Views of Mount Scott

Goals of month

My next trip will be in the Spring.